The best way to protect your pet and ensure that he/she is provided for in your absence is through the creation of a pet trust. A pet trust is a specialized type of revocable living trust. Like any trust, you will appoint someone as the Trustee of the trust and you will fund the trust with sufficient assets to care for your pet in your absence. The Trustee of your trust is legally obligated to use the utmost care when managing the trust assets and to follow the trust terms just as you wrote … [Read more...] about Is a pet trust a better option?
Gifting your pet to a designated caregiver in your Will does resolve the issue of the legal transfer of ownership; however, it does not solve all of the issues found in a verbal agreement. It does not legally obligate your caregiver to take over the care and maintenance of your pet nor does it provide a satisfactory funding method. You can also gift funds that are intended to be used to care for your pet; however, once gifted in a Will, the funds become the property of the beneficiary to do with … [Read more...] about Can I transfer ownership by gifting my pet in my Will?
You may not think of your pet as property; however, the law considers an animal to be property. Therefore, ownership of that “property” needs to be legally transferred to a new owner after your death. In the event of your incapacity, someone needs the legal authority to take control of that “property” during your incapacity. In addition, by making it clear who you wish to be your pet’s new “owner” you can help prevent disputes that could arise if more than one friend or family member wants to … [Read more...] about My pet isn’t property so why do I need to transfer “ownership?”
People frequently make the mistake of relying on nothing more than a verbal agreement with a family member or friend to care for their pet in the event of their death or disability. There are numerous problems with this option. First, your intended caregiver could be unable or unwilling to fulfill the agreement when the time comes and there is no legal way to enforce the agreement. Second, although you may not view your pet as your property, the law does, and a verbal agreement does not legally … [Read more...] about Do I still need pet planning if a friend promised to take care of my pet?
Unfortunately, over half a million dogs and cats end up in shelters each year in the U.S. as a result of the death or incapacity of their owner. When a pet owner dies or becomes incapacitated, a beloved family pet can easily be overlooked, or be viewed as a burden, if plans were not made ahead of time to care for the animal in the event something happened to his/her human “owner.” Your loved ones may be so focused on their worry or grief over your death or health problems that your pet simply … [Read more...] about What happens without a pet plan?
Despite the fact that they feel their pet is part of the family, most people do not think to include Fluffy or Fido in their estate plan either because they are not aware it is possible, don’t think it’s necessary, or are unsure how to do so. If you consider your pet to be part of the family, why wouldn’t you include him/her in your estate plan? Including your family pet in your estate plan allows you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet will be well cared for if you are unable to … [Read more...] about Is pet planning necessary?
Watching a parent’s mental and/or physical deterioration is heart-wrenching. If you have a parent who has become incapacitated, as a result of Alzheimer’s or simply the natural aging process, seeking conservatorship may be your only option if you wish to keep your parent and his/her assets safe. A conservatorship is a relationship established by a court of law between the person who needs help, referred to as the “ward,” and the person or entity named by the court to help the ward, known as the … [Read more...] about What can I do if a parent becomes incapacitated and they didn’t plan ahead?
One of the most commonly used incapacity planning tools is a revocable living trust. When used to plan for the possibility of incapacity it works by allowing you to appoint yourself as the Trustee of the trust and appoint someone of your choosing as the successor Trustee. Your estate assets are then transferred into the trust. Because you are the Trustee, you continue to control those assets just as before; however, if you become incapacitated the successor Trustee (chosen by you) takes over as … [Read more...] about Can a revocable living trust help me with incapacity planning?
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to plan ahead and make your own end-of life wishes known in the event that you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time and/or appoint someone to make decisions for you. State law dictates what types of advance directives are recognized in the state. California recognizes two types of advanced directives, including: Power of Attorney for Health Care which allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions … [Read more...] about What is an Advance Directive?
A Power of Attorney is a legal agreement that allows you (the “Principal”) to grant another person (your “Agent”) the legal authority to act in your place in legal matters. That authority can be general, allowing your Agent almost unfettered power to act on your behalf, or limited, only granting your Agent the authority to act on your behalf in specific situations or for a designated period of time. While a Power of Attorney can be a helpful incapacity planning tool, it has some drawbacks, … [Read more...] about Does executing a Power of Attorney solve my problems?